Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Songs for Obama-Fired Up, Ready To Go

The life of Microsoft software engineer Jon Bergevin, a pianist and composer, turned into a thrilling musical journey this year after Barack Obama’s campaign used a song he and his brother wrote for the candidate.

By Jennifer Warnick
November 13, 2008

The wildest months of software engineer and musician Jon Bergevin’s life were triggered by a spontaneous battle cry, and later a rambunctious toddler.

First came the battle cry. At a small gathering of Barack Obama supporters in Greenwood, South Carolina, in June 2007, the visibly exhausted presidential candidate was shaking hands when Edith Childs, a 59-year-old city councilwoman and nurse, suddenly gave an energetic shout.

“Fired up, ready to go!” Childs yelled, momentarily startling Obama and the others in the room. But her words heartened the candidate, who adopted not only her phrase, but the story of that day and how “one voice can change the world” as a campaign signature.

Months later, the rambunctious toddler came along. In December 2007, Bergevin’s brother and musical collaborator Joe took his young daughter to an Obama event at the Showbox Sodo night club “before he was a 25,000-person stadium guy,” Bergevin said. “Joe’s little daughter ran under the rope line and right up to Barack Obama. Joe stayed back, because he didn’t want to get tackled by security, but then [Obama] leads Joe’s daughter back to him and says, ‘This is my sidekick.’” His brother shook Obama’s hand and told him, “I think you’re going to get the job done.” Obama looked Joe Bergevin straight in the eye, and said, “With your help, I will.”

To the brothers, Obama’s words were a creative call to action. Ten days after that exchange, the brothers had written and recorded a song called “
Fired Up, Ready To Go.” The brothers had help on the song from Seattle musical mainstays, including the Reverend Pat Wright and her Total Experience Gospel Choir and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron.

Childs originated a key Barack Obama campaign rally cry, “Fired up, ready to go!”
They posted a video of the song’s recording session on YouTube, which has now garnered almost 270,000 views. A week after the brothers put their song on the Internet, they were contacted by Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago, which used the song and its music video in several campaign pieces.

“Then one day they called and said, ‘Hey, Barack is going to be at Key Arena. We were wondering if you could come and introduce your song,’” Bergevin said. “Next thing I know, I found myself in front of 24,000 people standing on stage waving at the crowd.”

The rally at Key Arena only fueled the brothers’ creative fire, and soon they’d decided to write and record a whole album dedicated to Obama. They finished it under the wire and were able to take 5,000 copies of their CD, “Seven Songs for America and One for the World,” to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. There, Bergevin was able to meet a number of politicians and celebrities, and, in what he describes as one of the highlights of his busy year, he also met Edith Childs, the inspiration for the first song.

The release of their CD, along with the relationships they formed at the convention, generated a number of appearances as well as a phone call from a documentary maker in Texas. The filmmaker wanted to use music from the CD for a documentary set for release in Blockbuster stores nationwide called “Barack Obama: Who Is This Guy?” The brothers agreed, and three weeks later, the filmmaker called back to say Universal Pictures would be distributing the documentary worldwide in an extended form and calling it “Barack Obama: The Man and His Journey.”

The documentary crew asked the brothers to record one more song for the film. The catch? They had only 10 days to finish the recording. Bergevin worked around the clock writing, orchestrating, and recording all of the instrumentation. That left just one last part to record before finishing the song—the choir.

Jon Bergevin spent a memorable election night in the recording studio with a gospel choir recording a song called “I Am an American” for a Universal Pictures documentary on Barack Obama. When the election was called in Obama’s favor, the room went “absolutely bonkers.” The only available night for the singers to record the new piece named “I Am an American” was November 4. It was only fitting that Bergevin’s months of sleepless nights, creative and political action, and unexpected new friendships came full circle on election night, with him standing on a conductor’s podium before a 75-member choir.

In the studio, a nine-foot American flag hung on the wall behind the choir. The flag was the one presented to Bergevin’s wife at her father’s military funeral when she was nine years old. “It’s a beautiful flag. She keeps it in a wooden box and never takes it out,” Bergevin said. “She took it out that night.”

The Reverend Pat Wright and her Total Experience Gospel Choir and friends sang their hearts out, he said, and midsession, someone came into the room and announced, “McCain just conceded.”

“I thought I was dreaming. It was only eight o’clock,” Bergevin said. “This group of people went absolutely bonkers.”

The musicians took a break from recording to watch Obama’s speech. “There were tears. It was very emotional,” Bergevin said. Pat Wright “comes from pre-civil rights Texas, where African Americans had their own side of town. It was really meaningful for her especially. She said a group prayer with all 80 of us, our hands joined, and said, ‘I never in a million years thought this would happen.’”

Bergevin said when they were finished recording, every single person gave him a hug on the way out. “It was almost right up there with a wedding or a child being born kind of experience, as far as emotions go,” he said.

Though the election is over, life remains busy for the brothers. Sales of their CD are picking up online, which thrills Bergevin, because all profits from the album go to support the Reverend Wright's Seattle Artists foundation to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana rebuild their homes.

“It’s changed my life immensely. It’s been an honor to work on something that we really believed in, and I personally have learned for myself that I have a lot more capability than I ever thought I had musically,” Bergevin said. “My Microsoft work ethic has certainly helped me put my rump in the chair at 5:30 a.m. to finish string parts in my underwear.”

Bergevin is a different person than he was a year ago. He’s met governors, senators, and actors. He’s recorded music that people all over the world are listening to. He’s made unlikely friends and become politically active locally and nationally. The experiences of this election year have completely changed the landscape of his life, and Bergevin says there’s no going back. “I feel like I’ve kind of expanded my life from being just a Microsoft software engineer who plays jazz every few months to someone who has gotten completely involved in the community,” he said. “It’s a different way of being now.”

Watch “Fired Up, Ready To Go” the
music video and the making of the video.

Read an
ABC news story about the origin of Barak Obama’s campaign battle cry, “Fired up, ready to go!”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

ANKUR - Multicultural Event

I am a Canadian : By Clint Buehler

Being a Canadian means standing proudly and fearlessly to proclaim, I am Canadian.

I am a Canadian. My skin is black and brown and red and white and yellow and a rainbow of those in combination.

My God has many names, for my religion is Catholic and Protestant and Jewish and Islamic and Budhist and many more - even agnostic and atheist.

My ancestors came from many lands, some only recently and some long centuries ago.
My language is as many toungues as there are countries in this world and more.
My philosophy and politics range across the whole spectrum of man's belief and understanding and experience.

These things make me what I am as an individual, make me unique. They determine my part in the mosaic of this nation when I proudly say; I am Canadian.

Lessons from ‘The Last Lecture’ Live On

Randy Pausch died two months ago from pancreatic cancer. His life inspired millions, including many Microsoftees who knew the computer science professor personally.

By Joshua Isaac
September 23, 2008

Randy Pausch, 47, taught computer science at Carnegie Mellon University but achieved worldwide fame for his “The Last Lecture” speech on September 18, 2007. He died on July 25, 2008.

Long before he was diagnosed with a fatal illness, Randy Pausch lived life with a zest and quality that characterizes the best of the human experience. He came to worldwide attention after giving a talk on achieving your childhood dreams which came to be known as “The Last Lecture.”

The title was appropriate. The computer science scholar, receiving palliative care for pancreatic cancer, would die on July 25, 2008, a few months after giving the talk. As poignant and humorous as it was brilliant and genuine, the lecture became an Internet sensation, touching millions of people around the world.

But long before the lecture brought Pausch’s zeal to audiences throughout the world, several Microsoftees intimately knew and relished his wisdom through personal relationships.

If you’re not going to have fun, why do it?

Desney Tan, researcher with Microsoft Research (MSR), was one of the many Microsoftees who met Pausch through his academic research at Carnegie Mellon University. In 1998, Tan was looking for a faculty advisor but found a lifetime mentor instead.

“Randy had me come in and meet with him at 3 a.m.—yes, three o’clock in the morning,” recalled Tan. “I don’t remember much of that meeting—it was 3 a.m., after all—but I do vividly remember him telling me, ‘if you’re just looking for an academic guide, I’m probably not your guy. But if you want to learn about life, let’s do it together.’ Obviously, when the time came, I picked Randy as my advisor, and that has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.”

Desney Tan learned from his mentor Pausch that “walls are there to test how badly you want something. …There doesn’t exist a wall that is too high or too wide or too thick that you can’t find a way through. Perseverance and ingenuity [are] key.”

Pausch’s obscure teaching style had a deep impact on those who knew him. Rob DeLine, senior researcher with MSR, met Pausch through undergraduate and graduate research at the University of Virginia. “I’m still trying to decipher the secrets of how Randy made his lab so fun and his group so tight-knit,” recalled DeLine. “Part of the glue was his constant humor. He also had a way to make the whole group feel pride in each member’s personal achievements. We were always a team, never competing individuals. As Randy made so clear…fun and people are the primaries—nothing else really matters.”

Pausch focused on relationships and making those around him better. Eric Horvitz, research area manager with MSR, served with Pausch on the DARPA Information Science and Technology Study Group board. “I found that he brought a great deal of positivity and enthusiasm to everything he touched. He had a self-assured but humble and endearing nature in his interactions with others,” said Horvitz, who recalled how Pausch could easily turn a situation into a life lesson. “For example, I recall his mentioning in a lecture at Microsoft…that he had decided that it was far better to join up and collaborate with others than to compete with them…and that this was an organizing principle for living life and being a productive member of a team.”

‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ — Walt Disney

Pausch, who liked to quote Walt Disney, brought the magic of Disney’s vision into his life and the life of others. When he delivered “The Last Lecture,” he gave a blueprint for achieving your dreams. “I think the presentation was magnificent,” said Jane Prey, senior research program manager with MSR, who taught with Pausch on the UVA faculty and referred to Pausch as Peter Pan. “It was so Randy to do all of that. He was a first-class showman in every positive sense of the word, and he also understood what he needed to leave his audience with—that life can be very unfair, but you can spend all of your life bringing joy to many people.”

Several Microsoft employees were there to personally see “The Last Lecture.” “That weekend was a confusing emotional mix. All his former students flew in for it, so it was like a college reunion,” DeLine said. “After the lecture and a short dedication ceremony, Randy went out to dinner with us. At the end of the night, each of us, in turn, got a private moment to say goodbye. That last moment with him is still a punch in the guts for me to think about, but I’m so grateful for it.”

Jane Prey, senior research program manager with MSR, worked closely with Randy Pausch at the University of Virginia’s computer science program. “I feel very lucky to count myself as one of his friends,” said Prey.

Tan travelled from Florence, Italy, taking four connecting flights to get there and arriving only moments before the lecture started. “Randy managed to get the essence of himself into an hour,” Tan said. “He has left me, and the world, a legacy to remember and to live by. Randy was a wonderful man who was thankfully given the opportunity to spread his life, I daresay, far beyond even his wildest dreams. To anyone who hasn’t watched ‘The Last Lecture’ [or read his book], I would strongly encourage this. We all take something a little different away from it, but we all take something away from it. A little piece of him lives on in all our lives, and for that, we are thankful.”

Time is a commodity

Pausch made great contributions to the world of computer science with a famous software project called Alice. He also left an indelible mark through his lectures on time management. But time was the one thing Pausch did not have enough of. Yet knowing this, he made the most of the time he did have. “His efforts and priorities over the two or so years from receiving his diagnosis to his death really captured his positive spirit, his commitment to truth and honesty, his wonderful communication skills, his incredible time-management skills, and his creativity and overall approach to making the best of things,” Horvitz said.

In light of his diagnosis, he fought for more research funding for pancreatic cancer. “We have lost many great computer scientists due to pancreatic cancer,” said John Nordlinger, senior research program manager with MSR, who brought Pausch to campus as a consultant. “Along with being awed and inspired by Randy, we should take a moment to appreciate the devastation of cancer in general and pancreatic cancer especially, both in terms of personal health and if we can contribute towards greater research.”

Pausch’s testimony before the U.S. Congress helped paint the picture of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In the last 30 years, virtually no progress has been made in the fight against this disease. Median survival following diagnosis is less than six months with 75 percent of patients dead by year one and only 4 percent alive after year five.

“Back in my graduate days of working with Randy, whenever someone was stuck and said they couldn't figure out a problem, or that they didn't think something would work, Randy would never accept that kind of answer,” said Ken Hinckley, principal researcher with MSR. “[Finding a cure] has been given up as too hard. But Randy has an answer to that too: ‘I don't believe in too hard.’”

Much of Pausch's last lecture was about how he had a list of very specific childhood dreams, including flying in zero gravity, meeting Captain Kirk, becoming a professional football player, authoring an article in the World Encyclopedia, being a Disney Imagineer, winning stuffed animals, and how he accomplished them all except becoming a professional football player. As hard as they were, Pausch really did achieve his childhood dreams. But he did not live to see his three children achieve theirs. Fortunately for them, he left behind a legacy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Romila Thapar Lecture

Dear Children,

Ashok and I attended Romila's lecture in University of Alberta. I met a couple of professors from University of Hyderabad, who attended the lecture. One is from the Chemistry department. I told him about akkaiah.

Romila is 78 years old, but active. She spoke for a couple of hours, standing tall. I met Raj Pannu and his wife. And I introduced Ashok to them. I could meet Ashok's supervisor also. He spoke nicely. Ashok introduced me to him.

With Love, Nana
About Romila Thapar

Thapar is professor emeritus of Ancient Indian History at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, also author of many seminal works on the history of ancient India.

In January 2005, Romila Thapar refused to accept the Padma Bhushan awarded by the Indian Government.

She exclaimed her reason for turning down the award as:

"I only accept awards from academic institutions or those associated with my professional work, and not state awards."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pragathi Konda Pictures

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thought For The Day

Dear Children,

Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day. Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant. We judge ourselves mostly by our intentions, but others judge us mostly by our actions.

It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom. Every act is to be judged by the intention of the agent.

With Love,

Friday, August 22, 2008


~Curious people are seldom bored. Conversely, boring people are seldom curious.
~Learning which does not advance each day will decrease daily.
~That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed with delight and profit.
~Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
~Next to acquiring good friends, the best acquisition is that of good books.
~Appreciative words are the most powerful force for good on earth.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kindness Pays...

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry.

He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"

"You don't owe me anything," she replied
"Mother has taught us never to accept payment for a kindness." He said... "Then I thank you from my heart."

As the boy (Howard Kelly) left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes.

Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room.

She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally, she looked, and something caught ; her attention on the side as She read these words.....

"Paid in full with one glass of milk." (Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly.

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: "Thank You,
GOD, that Your love has spread abroad through human hearts and hands."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Family is a little world created by love

Peace and war begin at home. If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families. If we want to spread joy, we need for every family to have joy.
- Mother Teresa

A family is a little world created by love.
A family is a place of warmth when the world is cold;
A place of safety when the world is hostile;
A place of light when the world is dark.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Find Joy in The Present - Don't Wait For Tomorrow

Some people never find joy in the present,
They cling to their woe and their sorrow,
Missing the blessings right under their noses.
While dreaming of good things tomorrow.

Some folks don't notice the sun when it's shining
Or hear when the songbirds are singing,
They're so busy looking across the horizon.
To see what the future is bringing

Some never think life is good at the moment.
To them it is futile and hollow.
So with a shrug and a sigh of self-pity.
They sit down and wait for tomorrow

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Wise Woman & A Precious Stone

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
"I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone."

Dear Somayya,

Thank you for this beautiful story. My impression is that the woman is very content and peaceful with herself and her life to the point that she has become totally unselfish and is not desirous of other things. This enables her to give precious items freely to others without hesitation. She has inside her seed of happiness, loving kindness and compassion that she has allowed to flourish and grow. We all have these qualities inside us and need only to be aware of them and water them so then can grow. The woman will not be able to give these qualities to the man. He need only look inside himself for they are already there.


Thank you, Lillian for your nicer comment for the nice story.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Oh! our Pragathi is turning one!

A year's gone by,
How time has flown,
We can't believe
How our Pragathi's grown!

She's such a joy
And so much fun,
Oh Our baby's
Turning One!

Advanced Happy Birthday Greetings to Our Pragathi Konda!
With Love, Nanamma & Tataiah


Dear Children,

People like blogs, they like blogs because they are written by people and not corporations. People want to know what people think.

Blog writers have to tell other readers exactly what they think using the least amount of words possible.

With Love, Nana

Friday, August 15, 2008

International Adult Learner's Week

Hi Somaiah:

I will try to outline the nature of my call in a few sentences. September 8 – 12 is International Adult Learner week. At Metro, we would like to profile a couple of adult learners who we believe exemplify life-long-learning. I instantly thought of you and the path that your career has taken. I have always been impressed with your commitment to volunteering your time and talents. I was wondering if I could put your name forward? I do not know exactly what may or may not come of this, however, I wanted to check with you first before giving your name and phone number to our marketing person. She may call you and ask you some questions. One of the questions I am sure she will ask is “how has Metro helped you to pursue life-long-learning”? This is why I called your house yesterday. You can either respond via email or you can give me a call.

Thank You,
Gerald Stobbe

Dear Mr Gerald Stobbe,

Good Morning. Thank you very much for your e-mail.
And I also thank you for the good impression you have for me. I will always try to keep it up.

Yes! I will never forget in my life, the way I had stepped into Metro and became the part of its learning activities and part of its lovely people, the great teachers, the other staff members, the principal and also other greater community of learners from different countries and cultures. I will never forget the beautiful experiences I had.

I had no objection sir, in giving my profile to any for asking further questions about that beautiful life, which inspired me to continue my efforts in the path of learning life-long.

I thank once again you, and your dedicated the staff members especially, my loving teachers, Mrs. Lynda, Mrs. Estella, Mrs. Kamala and finally Joan B Farhall. Not only me, but also my other family members remember these people as I shared my day today class-room experiences at home.

Finally I like to convey my sincere thanks everybody on the occasion of International Adult Learner week, 2008.

Sincerely, Somayya Kasani

Happy India's Independence Day

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Have a Nice Day

Opportunities multiply as they are seized, they die when neglected. Wealth is not in making money, but in making the man while he is making money. The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps - We must step up the stairs. Go where you want to go; be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

Dear Children,

Good Morning. How are you?. Today also I am planning to go to the Library. I will also make a trip to City Hall and give one copy of our Edmonton Vani -2008 to Mr. Iveson and put another copy at the Mayor's desk.

With Love, AmmaNaana

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Use your instincts,
to fight for whats right,
you know deep within,
whats wrong and whats right.

Natural instincts keep us alive,
when fear comes forth,
instinct helps to survive.

When love comes your way,
and you just don't know what to do,
follow your heart,
your instincts will know.

When you go for that job,
you've wanted so much,
keep positive,
be confident,
be impulsive rise above.

Instincts play a big part in life,
so when you get that gut feeling,
and you know something just feels so right,
Follow your instincts,
go out and fight for your right.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Good Morning

If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Here are a few quotes from the book I read " Man's Searching for Truth."

Dear Children,

•What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.

•The meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves, but rather detected.
What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment.

•We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by doing a deed; (2) by experiencing a value; and (3) by suffering.

•Everyone is on a journey through life. Part of this journey is our growing understanding of us and our world, and the development of our relationships with other people who are also undertaking their individual journeys.

As we progress on this journey we seek to make sense of our lives and our place in the world - the search for meaning.

With Love, Amma-Naana

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Congratulations AmmaNaana!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Pragathi took her first steps in her walking :-)

Dear Amma, Naana,

Happy to receive your mails this morning. Yes, the quotes are very good.

Yesterday, Pragathi took her first steps in her walking. This is in Borders Books Shop. We visited the place in the evening to find out the timings for Pragathi’s story time and to spend time in the children’s section there. She took 4 steps and stood for some time.

Loving Son,

Thought For The Day

Dear Children,

* Kids learn when they're having fun. They hardly know they are learning when they are enjoying themselves.

* We can teach them when we have the tools and a plan.

* We can encourage our kids to create their own goals, and NOT impose our ideas on them.

* Happy children with high self-esteem and confidence look to the future with intention and clarity.

Have a Nice Day!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Note of " Thank You" From Thankful Class ESL Level 6‏

Dear our teacher, Mrs. Joan,

Good Morning. Today is August 07, 2008. Tomorrow is the last working day for us, the ESL students. ESL Level 6 is almost the final step for us in learning the language. So some of us take career oriented courses. I also hope to join in a different school taking a Professional Program. In a way it is a turning point to us.

No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. I thank you now on behalf of me and my pretty class, ESL Level 6 for everything you’ve done for us.

Your kind attention touched our minds and our hearts. You gave us motivation to pursue. We’ll remember our whole lives through.

“A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others.”

Joan! You are our good teacher. So, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Somayya Kasani & the ESL Level6 class

Monday, August 04, 2008

Heritage Festival In Edmonton

Dear all,

Good Evening. I attended the Heritage Festival accompanying Mundi. We could cover most of the cultural events performed by different cultural groups.

Heritage Festival 2008 featured 62 pavilions representing over 75 cultures from all over the world. This Festival marks the 33rd annual edition of this premier three-day showcase of Canada's vibrant multicultural heritage.

It was a blend of culinary delicacies, creative performances, crafts shops, display of artwork, and clothing, or communion of people who are eager to tell a little about their cultural roots and their present-day communities in Canada.

With Love, Nana

Friday, August 01, 2008

Thought For The Day

Dear Children,
He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how: Nietzche.

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love, he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but ought to be actualized.

Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.
With Love, Amma-Naana.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From banks of Godavari to Google on wheel chair‏

Naga Naresh Karutura has just passed out of IIT Madras in Computer Science and has joined Google in Bangalore.

You may ask, what's so special about this 21-year-old when there are hundreds of students passing out from various IITs and joining big companies like Google?

Naresh is special. His parents are illiterate. He has no legs and moves around in his powered wheel chair. (In fact, when I could not locate his lab, he told me over the mobile phone, 'I will come and pick you up'. And in no time, he was there to guide me)

Ever smiling, optimistic and full of spirit; that is Naresh. He says, "God has always been planning things for me. That is why I feel I am lucky."

Read why Naresh feels he is lucky.

Childhood in a village
I spent the first seven years of my life in Teeparru, a small village in Andhra Pradesh, on the banks of the river Godavari. My father Prasad was a lorry driver and my mother Kumari, a house wife. Though they were illiterate, my parents instilled in me and my elder sister (Sirisha) the importance of studying.

Looking back, one thing that surprises me now is the way my father taught me when I was in the 1st and 2nd standards. My father would ask me questions from the text book, and I would answer them. At that time, I didn't know he could not read or write but to make me happy, he helped me in my studies!

Another memory that doesn't go away is the floods in the village and how I was carried on top of a buffalo by my uncle. I also remember plucking fruits from a tree that was full of thorns.

I used to be very naughty, running around and playing all the time with my friends. I used to get a lot of scolding for disturbing the elders who slept in the afternoon. The moment they started scolding, I would run away to the fields!

I also remember finishing my school work fast in class and sleeping on the teacher's lap!

January 11, 1993, the fateful day
On the January 11, 1993 when we had the sankranti holidays, my mother took my sister and me to a nearby village for a family function. From there we were to go with our grandmother to our native place. But my grandmother did not come there. As there were no buses that day, my mother took a lift in my father's friend's lorry. As there were many people in the lorry, he made me sit next to him, close to the door.

It was my fault; I fiddled with the door latch and it opened wide throwing me out. As I fell, my legs got cut by the iron rods protruding from the lorry. Nothing happened to me except scratches on my legs.

The accident had happened just in front of a big private hospital but they refused to treat me saying it was an accident case. Then a police constable who was passing by took us to a government hospital.

First I underwent an operation as my small intestine got twisted. The doctors also bandaged my legs. I was there for a week. When the doctors found that gangrene had developed and it had reached up to my knees, they asked my father to take me to a district hospital. There, the doctors scolded my parents a lot for neglecting the wounds and allowing the gangrene to develop. But what could my ignorant parents do?

In no time, both my legs were amputated up to the hips.

I remember waking up and asking my mother, where are my legs? I also remember that my mother cried when I asked the question. I was in the hospital for three months.

Life without legs
I don't think my life changed dramatically after I lost both my legs. Because all at home were doting on me, I was enjoying all the attention rather than pitying myself. I was happy that I got a lot of fruits and biscuits.

The day I reached my village, my house was flooded with curious people; all of them wanted to know how a boy without legs looked. But I was not bothered; I was happy to see so many of them coming to see me, especially my friends!

All my friends saw to it that I was part of all the games they played; they carried me everywhere.

God's hand
I believe in God. I believe in destiny. I feel he plans everything for you. If not for the accident, we would not have moved from the village to Tanuku, a town. There I joined a missionary school, and my father built a house next to the school. Till the tenth standard, I studied in that school.

If I had continued in Teeparu, I may not have studied after the 10th. I may have started working as a farmer or someone like that after my studies. I am sure God had other plans for me.

My sister, my friend
When the school was about to reopen, my parents moved from Teeparu to Tanuku, a town, and admitted both of us in a Missionary school. They decided to put my sister also in the same class though she is two years older. They thought she could take care of me if both of us were in the same class. My sister never complained.

She would be there for everything. Many of my friends used to tell me, you are so lucky to have such a loving sister. There are many who do not care for their siblings.

She carried me in the school for a few years and after a while, my friends took over the task. When I got the tricycle, my sister used to push me around in the school.

My life, I would say, was normal, as everyone treated me like a normal kid. I never wallowed in self-pity. I was a happy boy and competed with others to be on top and the others also looked at me as a competitor.

I was inspired by two people when in school; my Maths teacher Pramod Lal who encouraged me to participate in various local talent tests, and a brilliant boy called Chowdhary, who was my senior.

When I came to know that he had joined Gowtham Junior College to prepare for IIT-JEE, it became my dream too. I was school first in 10th scoring 542/600.

Because I topped in the state exams, Gowtham Junior College waived the fee for me. Pramod Sir's recommendation also helped. The fee was around Rs 50,000 per year, which my parents could never afford.

Moving to a residential school
Living in a residential school was a big change for me because till then my life centred around home and school and I had my parents and sister to take care of all my needs. It was the first time that I was interacting with society. It took one year for me to adjust to the new life.

There, my inspiration was a boy called K K S Bhaskar who was in the top 10 in IIT-JEE exams. He used to come to our school to encourage us. Though my parents didn't know anything about Gowtham Junior School or IIT, they always saw to it that I was encouraged in whatever I wanted to do. If the results were good, they would praise me to the skies and if bad, they would try to see something good in that. They did not want me to feel bad.

They are such wonderful supportive parents.

Life at IIT- Madras
Though my overall rank in the IIT-JEE was not that great (992), I was 4th in the physically handicapped category. So, I joined IIT, Madras to study Computer Science.

Here, my role model was Karthik who was also my senior in school. I looked up to him during my years at IIT- Madras.

He had asked for attached bathrooms for those with special needs before I came here itself. So, when I came here, the room had attached bath. He used to help me and guide me a lot when I was here.

I evolved as a person in these four years, both academically and personally. It has been a great experience studying here. The people I was interacting with were so brilliant that I felt privileged to sit along with them in the class. Just by speaking to my lab mates, I gained a lot.

Words are inadequate to express my gratitude to Prof Pandurangan and all my lab mates; all were simply great. I was sent to Boston along with four others for our internship by Prof Pandurangan. It was a great experience.

Joining Google R&D
I did not want to pursue PhD as I wanted my parents to take rest now.

Morgan Stanley selected me first but I preferred Google because I wanted to work in pure computer science, algorithms and game theory.

I am lucky
Do you know why I say I am lucky?

I get help from total strangers without me asking for it. Once after my second year at IIT, I with some of my friends was travelling in a train for a conference. We met a kind gentleman called Sundar in the train, and he has been taking care of my hostel fees from then on.

I have to mention about Jaipur foot. I had Jaipur foot when I was in 3rd standard. After two years, I stopped using them. As I had almost no stems on my legs, it was very tough to tie them to the body. I found walking with Jaipur foot very, very slow. Sitting also was a problem. I found my tricycle faster because I am one guy who wants to do things faster.

One great thing about the hospital is, they don't think their role ends by just fixing the Jaipur foot; they arrange for livelihood for all. They asked me what help I needed from them. I told them at that time, if I got into an IIT, I needed financial help from them. So, from the day I joined IIT, Madras, my fees were taken care of by them. So, my education at the IIT was never a burden on my parents and they could take care of my sister's Nursing studies.

Surprise awaited me at IIT
After my first year, when I went home, two things happened here at the Institute without my knowledge.

I got a letter from my department that they had arranged a lift and ramps at the department for me. It also said that if I came a bit early and checked whether it met with my requirements, it would be good.

Second surprise was, the Dean, Prof Idichandy and the Students General Secretary, Prasad had located a place that sold powered wheel chairs. The cost was Rs 55,000. What they did was, they did not buy the wheel chair; they gave me the money so that the wheel chair belonged to me and not the institute.

My life changed after that. I felt free and independent.

That's why I say I am lucky. God has planned things for me and takes care of me at every step.

The world is full of good people
I also feel if you are motivated and show some initiative, people around you will always help you. I also feel there are more good people in society than bad ones. I want all those who read this to feel that if Naresh can achieve something in life, you can too.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thought For The Day

Dear Children,

A mind always employed is always happy. This is true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity. True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body, the two are ever united.

True merit is like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes.

A word after a word after a word is power. Words should be only the clothes, carefully custom-made to fit the thought. The most ordinary word, when put into place, suddenly acquires brilliance. That is the brilliance with which your images must shine. All words are pegs to hang ideas on. A good word is like a good tree whose root is firmly fixed and whose top is in the sky. Syllables govern the world. As long as we are not chased from our words we have nothing to fear. As long as our utterances keep their sound we have voice. As long as our words keep their sense we have soul. Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.

With Love, Amma-Naana

Friday, July 25, 2008

An Enduring Legacy - Professor Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch, the professor at Carnegie Mellon University who inspired countless students in the classroom and others worldwide through his highly acclaimed last lecture, has died of complications from pancreatic cancer today (July 25, 2007). He was 47.

Really inspiring Person and lead inspiring life. Below are some of his quotes.

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the OTHER people!" — from The Last Lecture

"...when you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering you to tell you anymore, that's a very bad place to be. Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care." — from The Last Lecture

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." — from The Last Lecture

"It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's all about leading your life. If you lead your life in a right way, karma will take care of itself. And dreams will come to you." — from The Last Lecture

"[Quoting a CMU secretary] This advice is good for the ladies: when it comes to men that are romantically interested in you, it's really simple: just don't listen to anything they have to say; pay attention to what they do" — from The Last Lecture

"We're not going to talk about spirituality and religion. Although I will tell you that I have experienced a deathbed conversion. I just bought a Macintosh." — from The Last Lecture

A Poem by Gene Bedley...

If you want to know me
listen to me

If you want to strengthen me
point out my gifts and talents

If you want to motivate me,
find the incentives that drive me

If you want to direct me,
persuade me with the benefits

If you want to make me feel important
Invite me

If you want me to live a life of purpose
equip me with values

If you want to protect me
create safe boundaries around me

If you want to encourage me
be available when I am challenged

If you want to energize me
ignite me with your enthusiasm

If you want to challenge me
help me learn mistakes are ok

If you want me to have an accurate self
give me responsibilities

If you want me to value others love me!

Obama’s Speech in Berlin...Transcript From New York Times

The following is the prepared text of Senator Barack Obama in Berlin, Germany, as provided by his presidential campaign.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”

People of the world – look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall – a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope – walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.

People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Greetings from Metro School

Dear all, Good Morning.

Thank you for your encouragement for my studies. I am learning something new every day of my course and mingling with new people as well. This morning our principal and our teacher Kamalah greeted me. Now every body is talking about the forth coming vacation.

More in my next e-mail. Today I am posting my application for funding to my next Program at Campbell College.

With Love, Naana